When two narratives collide: throwaway season vs. rising expectations

I’m not sure if we’re all with Pete Fiutak yet…

Now the narrative shifts to Kirby Smart. Kirby, win the SEC East in 2017, or else.

There’s absolutely no excuse to not get into the SEC championship next year. There wasn’t really any excuse this season, either, and it was a missed opportunity. Next year, Florida still probably won’t have an offense, Tennessee will still be Tennessee – and will miss a slew of key players – and Missouri, South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, while fine, are still Missouri, South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

It’s not just Chubb returning. Key backup running back Sony Michel – a likely late-rounder – is returning, along with likely top 100 picks Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy for the defensive front. Safety Dominick Sanders hasn’t declared one way or another, but no matter what, the Bulldogs have around 19 starters returning, a franchise quarterback in Jacob Eason, and an NFL-caliber backfield to work with.

Yeah, there are road games at Notre Dame, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Auburn and Georgia Tech, but there’s no Alabama, no LSU, and it’s a manageable enough schedule to roll through if the team full of experienced talents can develop. And that puts it all on Smart to combine the experience, along with the big-time young talents coming in, to win right away and at least get to Atlanta.

Should Georgia be a preseason top ten team on talent? After losing three of the five games by a total of five points, and with the defense coming off a great regular season, now the offense has to kick it all in.

Again, with all the talent coming back, there’s no excuse in Year Two – at least to take the East.

… but there’s little doubt our perception of the 2017 season changed dramatically after hearing the news yesterday that Chubb, Michel, Carter and Bellamy have elected to return to play for the school.

While the immediate emotional impact of their decision is centered primarily on Chubb, because of his epic effort to return from serious injury, this may in time be appreciated more.

One major reason Carter’s excited about returning is due to the returning players he’ll line up with. Georgia is now expected to return its entire starting front seven from this season, considering there were no contributing seniors on the defensive line or at inside linebacker.

The lone rotational player the Bulldogs lose at outside linebacker is Chuks Amaechi.  [Emphasis added.]

Instant stability — a 180 degree change from what Smart walked into on his first day in Athens.

Yeah, there remains a chaotic situation to address on the offensive line, but consider what a coaching staff with a year under its collective belt, a defense that should be loaded with players who know what’s expected after a transitional season, a starting quarterback who’s no longer a true freshman, more depth and experience from his surrounding cast of skill position players and what should be a noticeable rise in the overall level of talent if what appears to be perhaps Georgia’s strongest recruiting class ever holds up through signing day will mean for expectations next season.

I’m sure we’ll hear from some inside and outside the program that such feelings are premature and need to be damped down in order not to place too much of a burden on Smart and the team (Process, baby!), but after signing day, it’s hard to see what team in the East will possess more talent than the one training in Athens.

Maybe it’s time to put the big boy pants on and embrace the opportunity for what it presents.  That’s why they changed coaches.  That’s why those four kids elected to stay.


UPDATE:  This, too.



Filed under Georgia Football

38 responses to “When two narratives collide: throwaway season vs. rising expectations

  1. OL is what it is. The big leap forward is going to have to be Eason.

    He has to get better recognizing coverages, get more accurate, and develop touch. Hopefully Nick is going to show him how to work his ass off.


  2. Aladawg

    ADGM, “You need to up your donation now to assure your seats for this season with all the returning starters. Fail to do so at your own risk. With this exciting schedule and our exciting game day experience tickets will be in demand at an all time high.”


    • Puffdawg

      They may move up the Hartman Fund deadline to the day before Juniors have to declare, just to be safe.


    • B-UGA

      App State, Samford, Miss St, Mizzou, S. Carolina, & Kentucky….not exactly an exciting home schedule (sounds like a bunch of 12:00 kick offs)! Get you donations in so you can get you Away game tickets (Notre Dame, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, Auburn, Tech)!! Hopefully they can turn around the Game Day Experience (inside Sanford Stadium) the way Kirby is turning around the football program…It’s all on the upswing, but GM & company definitely have some work in front of them to make the Game Day Experience (inside Sanford Stadium) what it should be. With next year’s stinker of a home schedule, they gotta do something to put people in seats instead of them watching on a 65″ in the comforts of home or bar.

      Kirby is putting all the pieces in place…just need to (pardon the expression) Finish the Drill! Great news & reason to be an excited Dawg Fan. Just don’t forget to manage expectations until we see some results (Remember 2008).

      GO DAWGS!

      BTW-Deadline for Hartman Fund Donations is FEB 15th


  3. Normaltown Mike

    I love the smell of happy talk in the morning.


  4. Gravidy

    Fiutak says, “Florida still probably won’t have an offense”. And he’s probably right, but does he think UGA will? Sure, I expect Eason to be better, and the backfield will be stellar. But will they have an offensive line or any wide receivers? Or, for that matter, will they have an offensive coordinator? I’m eager to see the answers to those questions.



    UT was the big flop in the East this year, not UGA…


  6. Nate Dawg

    Hmm…sounds like 9-3 8-4 to me…


  7. McGarity's Ears

    My expectations are still tampered by the fact that the 2 areas of weakness from this year remain for next year…a less than dominant o-line and shrimps at WR.


  8. JCDAWG83

    Florida without an offense has beaten the pants off Georgia the past two years, I’m not sure what Florida’s offense has to do with anything. If some of our offensive linemen develop into actual SEC caliber linemen, we have a chance. If not, look for another season like this season.


  9. Scorpio Jones, III

    “and with the defense coming off a great regular season” If that is what a great regular season looks like, well… Maybe he missed some games? Not sure I would call the offensive line situation chaotic…but there appears to be help on the way…some pretty soon.

    There were so many holes, so many mistakes by this year’s team they almost have to be better. Don’t they?


    • Not sure I would call the offensive line situation chaotic…

      You’re probably right… I mean, I couldn’t name next season’s starter at three positions if you held a gun to my head… you’re probably right.


      • Scorpio Jones, III

        What I meant was probably a quibble over word choice…the lineup stayed fairly constant, the chaos happened at the snap. It is quite possible that nobody, with the hopeful exception of Sam Pittman, could name next season’s starter at any position, although plenty will try. I think it is safe to assume the seniors will be replaced. 😀


  10. Jack Klompus

    Half truths on the update article. Most of those coaches Richt faced last year and the year before.


  11. DawgPhan

    dat update doe.

    going to have all the feels going on today.


  12. Jeff Sanchez

    I wonder if CKS knew the Taylor Lawrence news and was “getting ahead” of the story by announing those Juniors’ return.

    Don’t take that as criticism….it’s actually pretty shrewd if he did.


  13. AthensHomerDawg

    ” You smell that…I love this smell in the morning . Smells like 8-4 while running into 9 man fronts.”


  14. South FL Dawg

    Richt lost 2 out of 3 to Zook, and that wasn’t even mentioned.


    • Gaskilldawg

      The article was about the number of excellent coaches Richt faced while at Georgia. if you think Zook qualified to be listed in the category of excellent coaches, then fine, it is your opinion. most would disagree and exclude Zook from the list of excellent SEC coaches during the period of 2001 through 2015.

      That is why Chan Gailey did not make the list.


  15. paul

    Who knew you could drink next years Kool-Aid before bowl season?


  16. Rocket Dawg

    I have to agree with Fiutak (I can’t believe I just typed that). Simply no reason for UGA not to be in the SECCG next year at a minimum. Florida is one more year removed from Boom’s defensive players and Coach Beaver isn’t exactly lighting it up in recruiting, as long as Booch is at UT it really doesn’t matter what kind of players they have, Mizzou will be better but won’t be good, Vandy had a great year and looks to have a QB but they lose Webb and that all world LB that stopped IMac on 4th down. Believe it or not UK and South Carolina may be the biggest challenge for us next year in the East. Stoops has some talent in Lexington and they look to finally be deploying it properly. Don’t look now but Boom had the Chickens playing well at the end of the season with a really young roster.

    As far as our team goes I believe that Ridley and Wims will be the go to guys at WR next year along with Simmons and maybe a couple of the new kids coming in this year. Godwin will have to take over the IMac role in the offense (which I believe he can do). We should be much improved there next year. The key is the Oline and if Pittman can get the JUCO tackle we just signed to play well at LT and we can find a good replacement for Kublanow at C. I think Galliard will slice into the C spot and we may kick Wynn out to RT depending on how things shake out in recruiting. The line may not be appreciably better next year but I don’t see how they could be much worse. If Eason can learn to get the ball out of his hands quicker and become a true threat to win the game with his arm it will open up the running lanes for our ridiculously deep RB corps.

    2017….win the East. Anything less is unacceptable.


    • Will (The Other One)

      With the gigantic kid from Brooklyn coming aboard, I’m really hoping Wynn moves back to guard. Certainly won’t have to worry about the “undersized” line as much with a 320 and 350 lb tackles in the fold (and several big, big guard candidates.)


  17. SemperFiDawg

    “Yeah, there remains a chaotic situation to address on the offensive line, but consider what a coaching staff with a year under its collective belt, a defense that should be loaded with players who know what’s expected after a transitional season, a starting quarterback who’s no longer a true freshman, more depth and experience from his surrounding cast of skill position players and what should be a noticeable rise in the overall level of talent if what appears to be perhaps Georgia’s strongest recruiting class ever holds up through signing day will mean for expectations next season.”

    Hitting the eggnog early this year ain’t we?


  18. Bulldog Joe

    Glad to see them return. They are great guys.

    Now help us bring in more linemen. Especially tackles.


    • Silver Creek Dawg

      You’re getting your wish.

      Isaiah Wilson, the 5* OT from NY, just committed to UGA over Meatchicken…


      • Bulldog Joe

        A true offensive tackle and a great get… thought he was going to Michigan.

        Smart and Pittman are having a great month so far.


  19. Fiutak is correct. The problem, as I see it, is everything he said about this coming season was true this year. NotSo has 4 NFLers choosing to come back and play for him. If he can’t win the East with this returning talent against the weak ass competition( players and coaches) we’re facing in the division he never will. No championship… no peace.


    • W Cobb Dawg

      Agree. We are habitual underachievers. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, the only things we can depend on with certainty is death, taxes, and the Dawgs finding new and ever more creative ways to fuck up. But I’ll be watching anyway.


  20. 92 grad

    In my view, the real danger is the team’s mental discipline. With the seniors returning and historic recruiting class, the kids on the team will easily lull themselves into winning all their games before the season even starts. They need to be confident and proud but realize they need to work that much harder to make it happen.